H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 12/05/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"What the hell happened? This movie did not at all live up to expectations. I love both these action stars, Jason Statham and Jet Li, and what they bring to the table. I believed it was a can't miss premise: that of Statham and Li facing off against each other. Was I ever wrong!
Here's the plot: The slaughter of his partner and his partner's family causes federal agent John Crawford (Jason Statham) to go on a personal vendetta against a legendary assassin named Rogue. After three years, he finally gets a whiff of a lead. But, as Crawford hunts him down, Rogue (Jet Li) follows his own mysterious agenda. Having snaked his way into the Triad's inner circle, Rogue schemes and manipulates the Triad into engaging in warfare with the Yakuza. All the while, he is relentlessly hounded by Crawford and his task force.
Jason Statham brings his virility and patented angry intensity onto the screen. Jet Li, however, sleepwalks and delivers his lines without any type of conviction. Only in the action sequences does Jet spruce up, and, even then, we don't get to see him much in full out action. In an interview, Jet claimed that WAR isn't a martial arts film and I guess he's got this picture pegged perfectly. Oh, there's a ton of shooting with guns. But with namebrands like Jet Li and Jason Statham, with the latter having rapidly garnered a film rep as a martial artist (based on The Transporter series), I expected serious wushu mayhem. But Jet Li only gets to really cut loose wushu-style in one sequence when he goes up against ninja-clad Yakuza. Statham sees even less action, although he does have a pulse-pounding tussle in a teahouse. But, other than that, you'd never know Jason was well versed in the martial arts.
I was hugely anticipating Statham pitting his brawn and ferociousness against Li's agileness and speed. But, basically, the momumental throwdown between them never happens. They do get it on at the warehouse climax, but it comes off as more an amateurish and unfulfilling clash which emphasized wrestling, punching, and the two throwing each other thru things. Definitely not what I was hankering for. These guys both have built-in fan bases, and, in my opinion, the fans were just let down. I am sorely vexed.
Then, on top of that disappointment, you throw in the plodding nature of the story. Rogue persists in his machinations to set the two crime cartels against each other, forcing the audience to endure all the resulting dreary plot convolutions. Given, these aren't really dead spots in the film as much as the camera tending to hone in on sordid characters and situations I didn't give a crap about. But, even when things were happening, the film felt like it dragged. There are times when Statham's storyline is relegated to the background. Frankly, more focus should've been given to Crawford's pursuit of Rogue, especially since Statham, to me, is the more charismatic actor here. We're introduced to one promising character - the Yakuza head's capable and ambitious daughter - but nothing really comes of her story arc. However, I did appreciate the present she received.
There's one positive here in that a very nice twist is introduced late in the film, and it did surprise me. But, in the long run, too many things turned me off. When Jet Li and Jason Statham finally meet each other face to face, I expected fireworks. Not necessarily a fight, but...something, I dunno. But that scene left me cold. Sad to say, but these two lack chemistry together. The ending, when it came - and an unsatisfying and abrupt ending it was - couldn't have come any sooner. Two and a half stars of bitterness for this one."
3 ½ Stars: Not all Bad, will appeal to some....
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 11/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"WAR (aka. ROGUE ASSASSIN, Asian title) is the 2nd movie that puts together Jason Statham and Jet Li. Remember, "The One"? I don't blame you; I barely recall the film myself. This film has a very interesting cast; two popular action stars set to collide in the big screen. With fight choreography by Corey Yuen, it looks very promising. Did it deliver on its expectations? (I've been reviewing too many Korean films of late so I thought I'd review one that I saw in theaters months ago, my draft has just been sitting in my computer)
An F.B.I. agent named Jack Crawford (Jason Statham) is obsessed in finding his partner's killer and bringing the assassin called "Rogue" (Jet Li) to justice. Rogue is a ruthless killer, apparently if the Yakuza wants someone taken care of; they send this cold and accurate assassin. After disappearing from sight for a few years, Rogue resurfaces in the San Francisco Bay Area. Apparently, he has switched sides, and is now working for the Chinese Triad headed by Chang (John Lone). Jack is so fixated in nabbing Rogue that his very presence fills him with rage. However, Rogue takes Jack's presence as very entertaining and quite amusing. It seems that Rogue has a hidden agenda...
Music video director Philip Atwell is at the helm with "War"; his experience filming music videos certainly shows in this outing. The style is pretty routine and nothing is spectacular. One thing I can say, is that most of the sequences weren't shot in San Francisco; (I live in San Francisco so I can tell) wherever it WAS filmed it was so convenient. Yakuza territory is made of Sushi bars and Triad territory is mostly, well, Chinese food places. The Asian gangsters have the usual stereotype inherent in other action films. I did find the fetish in Asian clubs quite amusing.
The last time I saw Jet Li as the antagonist was in Lethal Weapon 4; Li upstages Statham in terms of dynamic charisma, he portrays Rogue as a silent but intense presence. Statham's character seemed a bit too clichéd, and suffers too much from the same old "cop-on-the-edge" gimmick. Li plays a good anti-hero as Rogue, with his classic manipulations to set the Triad against Yakuza. The classic manipulations kind of reminded me of older films, I couldn't put my finger on it until my friend mentioned Yojimbo and Shogun Assassin. The Yakuza crime lord is played by Ryu Ishibashi (Cure) with his daughter played by hottie Devon Aoki (D.O.A.). It was obvious that Aoki is in the film for eye-candy and not much else.
Not to say that the screenplay lacked inspiration. The interesting plot twists seemed poised to turn the film into something quite good. The first twist showed some promise although it may require a large suspension of disbelief; we are expected to believe that everything is just so well executed and calculated. I almost don't want to mention the 2nd twist, because they should have stopped with the first one. The second twist made the movie seemed a bit overcooked; it seemed too forced. It called too much attention to itself to astonish without any credibility. I cannot disclose anymore information because I may end up spoiling the film a little. I really felt like the film would have ended better. (I'm curious to see if the dvd will have an alternate ending, It certainly needs one) The plot devices/twists seemed more fit in a police morality drama, but in a standard action film, the pacing seemed to hamper the film a little.
Now did the film at least actually deliver on the fight sequences? Well, there are ninjas and a decent routine swordfight. We even see Kane Kosuji in action (for a few seconds anyway). The film is pretty solid as a commercial/mainstream action movie. There is a lot of marketing devices; gang conflicts with a few effective twists and turns, a hint of nudity, some T & A, cardboard cutout characters, blood with kinetic action sequences. The film isn't so bad as long as one remembers its target audience; testosterone-laden males (like me). Action director Corey Yuen made better action scenes before, but for action junkies, it may still prove diverting.
WAR is a MIXED bag, it doesn't offer anything we haven't seen before. It has the potential to become a truly fresh and entertaining action film, but it stumbles in the standard plot devices and the routine conflicts. The action sequences are decent, but somewhat lacking in intensity and emotion. Emotion plays an important part an excellent fight scene; the direction just didn't make the effort to show such emotional impact.
There is just something missing in "War" that it wasn't as effective as I wanted it to be. I've seen a lot of great action sequences, and the ones in "War" are definitely not in the upper tier. If you're a Jet Li fan, you've definitely seen him in MUCH better fight sequences such as in my personal favorite; "Kiss of the Dragon" (modern action) or in his past Hong Kong films. To its credit, (at the very least) the fight scenes are better than the ones in "Cradle to the Grave" but only by a hair. Maybe I've just seen too many Asian action films. Timidly Recommended for action fanatics and a good rental for everybody else. [3 ½ stars]
Nearly Perfect Mix of Action and Story
Raul Duke | Pittsburgh | 05/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
for an action fan, the expectations are going to be very high considering the actors. Jet Lee and Jason Statham are arguably the best action stars around these days.
while the action doesnt quite deliver as heavily as i hoped, the movie was fantastic. essentially its a cat and mouse story, Statham plays the vengeful federal agent, hellbent on tracking down his criminal. Jet Lee plays an international hitman, who killed Statham's partner. its going to be nearly impossible to find because he's always getting reconstructive surgery and changing his identity. now, four years later, he may just be back on the trail, thanks to a rare bullet, the exact same style used to kill his partner.
its a much darker story with little or no of the comedy found in a lot of Statham's roles, but its a strong, dark, well written action-drama that pushes all the right buttons. the acting was good all around, just as solid as you'd expect from the leads, all the minor characters play their roles believably.
the fight scenes didnt quite stack up to my expectations, but anyone older than five should realize, when the movies done, there was a lot more going on than a straight "shoot em up" action movie. not that it would've been a bad thing. i would give Crank that generalization, and its my favorite of Statham's films.
in the end, if you like action with a story, jet lee, or jason statham, at leased give it a rental."
"Get ready for a war."
Mike Zimmerman | Danville, PA United States | 08/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After losing his partner (Terry Chen) to the hands of mysterious assassin Rogue (Jet Li), FBI agent John Crawford (Jason Statham) has spent the last three years of his life trying to get revenge, costing him his marriage. He gets his opportunity when the assassin resurfaces to begin a war between the Triad and Yakuza crime organizations. In between all this, Rogue and Crawford are engaged in a cat-and-mouse chase where both learn about their past.
Jet Li and Jason Statham. Who could go wrong with a showdown between two of this generation's martial arts stars. This is agreeably why I anticipated "War", helmed by Phillip G. Altwell (a music video vet who doubled in directing an episode of "The Shield" and second unit directing for "National Treasure". The film delivers very well on the action side, and Li and Statham are terrific, but suffice to say, I felt disappointed.
Altwell does get "War" started on solid, if familiar territory. The music video vet often gets carried away with the visuals, but he is able to relish in the moment during any action scenes or whenever Li or Statham come into conflict. For any fan of martial arts films, Altwell has a good present for you.
But it's a shame that he wants more from this package than inviting fans to see the main event. Altwell piles upon meaningless subplot over meaningless subplots involving Crawford's estranged family (wake me up when that cliche dies down, please?), dirty cops hijacking weapons, a crime boss's wife (Nadine Velazquez) whom Rogue sympathizes for, and many more. So we're here to see Li and Statham exchange fisticuffs in a 99 minute movie, but have to sit through endless scenes of expository dialogue and some plot holes to get to it? And for some reason that only Altwell can explain, there's a "Usual Suspects"-type twist involving what REALLY happened to Tom Lone. A really bad move on his part.
Probably one of the subplots that had me riveted was the one involving Devon Aoki. As the daughter of Yakuza boss Shiro (Ryo Ishibashi), Aoki manages to give her somewhat limited role some life. My favorite scene involved her holding a knife to one guy's throat, while aiming a gun to the other guy's head. Scenes like that give "Rogue" the much needed life it lacks.
Altwell does good when giving Li and Statham screen time to confront each other. Scenes like that have plenty of suspense, raw drama, and an extra punch of fun. Unfortunately, due to the uncalled-for twist at the end, their final fight becomes a major disappointment. And the film ends after Crawford gets shot and Rogue drives off in a car. "War" has a lot going for it, and it's very action-packed, but it leaves a stench of disappointment of what it could've been."
Two Great Action Heroes But No Real Fights Between Them
Sebastian Sanjurjo | Miami FL | 03/23/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jason Statham stars as a cop with grief after loosing his partner in a shootout. The man responsible is an assassin named rogue, Statham's character takes it personal and is on the run after him. Simple premise but gets a bit confusing thru the course of the film When I first saw the trailer for this movie I thought this was goanna be the next big action movie in a long time. Really you have Jet Li on one side who is an extraordinary martial artist and on the other you have also another great action hero Jason Statham what can go wrong? Well for starters the problem here is the pace of the story, it's very slow and it feels too familiar. For the first hour there really isn't any action, I was constantly trying to stay wake. The movie isn't completely bad, it's actually recovers its pace at the end, around the last half hour it becomes one gruesome action movie. From a cool car chase scene, to a shootout at a bar, and the last fight scene involving katanas. But when it comes to the fight scenes that you want to see between Statham and Li they are not what you're expecting. The movie does redeem itself big time with its final twist which will surely have you thinking during the credits. But other than that it seems and feels as if the writers didn't take much time with it. Rent it